Thursday 22 October 2020

Getting in a Tizz!

 Is it something to do with age - is is to do with the times we are living through - is it a personality disorder?   I don't know what it is but what I do know is that I easily get into a sweat these days.   I rarely seem to have a day when I can be on an even keel all twenty four hours.   Is it just me?

It all started with Gardeners' World magazine - out today and full of good solid gardening reading and (if I am lucky) a couple of photographs of Monty thrown in for good measure.   Here's me, sitting over a round of toast and honey and admiring the new vista of my back garden sans the two miserable trees and thinking about how the bit of garden not yet planted up (blame Mares Tail)  needs something, when this month;s Gardeners' World plops through the letter box.   And in it a special offer for bulbs for the garden - daffodils (last chance to plant them). tulips - a very tempting offer - buy three lots and get the cheapest of the three free.   Yes!

Right - pick up the phone and order.   So I assemble card, magazine, items I wanted clearly marked and dialled.  The phone was answered promptly so I held out high hopes.   But of course I was in a queue.  I waited and waited but no animated human emerged - just a recorded one sorry to keep me waiting for the next available whatever.   Eventually, and because it kept reminding me I could do it,  I put the phone down and went on line to do it.   But of course I had to get on line first and my laptop would not allow me to get there.   Because of another problem (might tell you another day if I can't think of anything else to write about) my son had kindly changed my e mail password for me yesterday.   When I tried to use it BT wouldn't accept it.   I went on the phone and a lovely chap - full of patience - tried helping me.   Remember I shake, I am old, I am very deaf (as well as daft) and I kept apologising and I struggled.   Eventually, after half an hour I gave up and said I would get my son to ring.   This is always difficult because my son knew that half way through, for security reasons, they would ask to speak to me and we would be back to square one.   I rang my son to tell him and Eureka! he had sorted it out - all's well that ends well.

After a sandwich I went on line to order - I assembled all the things I needed, sorted out a password for a new account with Gardeners' World magazine - but could I find the special offer bulbs?   No.   After ten minutes searching I gave up and tried the telephone again.   Joy of joys = I got a lovely young man - he spelt my name right without having to ask me how to spell it, took my order, checked it with me and took down all the details.   Five minutes and we were all done and the bulbs will be here in about ten days - just - hopefully in time for the end of the month.   Where I intend them to go the soil is sheltered and still warm so they should be alright. All's well that ends well and all that, but an hour later I am only just beginning to feel unfrazzled and I don't intend to go on a walk today although it is quite pleasant out there.   Life never used to be like this - and retirement is supposed to be a slowing down of life and a time of relaxation.   Some hopes.



Wednesday 21 October 2020

A Good Excuse

 I had intended to go on my usual long walk (well, long for me) today but I had only got half way round - and conveniently near to a short cut home - when it began to rain heavily.   It was a good excuse to turn back.   So I did have a walk but not as long as I would have liked.  I am quite tired today for some reason.

But yesterday my gardeners arrived without warning and they cut all my hedges and then tackled the two large old evergreen trees which were neither use nor ornament.   It took them a couple of hours to saw them down, grub out all the roots and cart them away.   Today I look out on a completely transformed garden and I am delighted.   Now I hope to send for some bulbs - just about time to plant them -    to fill the space prior to planting up in April, which is what the nurseryman suggests.How do people manage who have no interest in gardening I wonder.

Friends called this morning to do a bit of shopping for me and as it is my birthday shortly they brought me a delightful bag with hares on  it.   I am very thrilled with it - it is almost too beautiful to use.   I do feel slightly ashamed as I have no idea when their birthdays are but one day - when all this Covid business has gone away - I do intend to take them out for a slap-up meal for their kindness to me over the Covid period.   There are many times when I couldn't have managed without them and I am eternally grateful.

A couple of weeks ago an elderly gentleman walking his dog opposite my bungalow on the opposite side of the road called across to me to ask how I managed Percy.   Because of my deafness I couldn't really hear what he was saying.   As I was washing the pan after lunch today (sea bass since you ask) I caught sight of him going past again so I called to him and went out to speak.   As I was explaining to him how I loved walking with Percy but my Physio had told me I mus t never walk with a dog in case the dog darted off after another dog, a dog and its owner went past on the opposite side of the road,  the man's dog went berserk and pulled the man over into the road -- luckily he anticipated the fall and fell in a relaxed manner.   He couldn't get up unaided, I couldn't help him, but luckily my gardener was coming down the road in his van, stopped and together we had the man up on his feet in no time and he seemed fine.   We had a lovely chat and he seemed none the worse for the incident but like me his balance is not brilliant.

Three people I knew have passed away in our little town in the last ten days or so.  The first funeral was today and I understand that because the number at funerals is limited the street down to the chapel was lined with people 'paying their last respects' to Diana, a lovely local lady, much respected and loved by all.   Very much a sign of the times, sadly.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Then and Now.

Two things happened yesterday which reminded me of the old days and of today - and how they differ.   And I suppose in every generation or two there are changes like this - or is this perhaps the century where things have changed more quickly than ever before?

First of all the Postman arrived with a Parcel for me (a cardigan - I buy all my clothes and all my books on line).   We had a chat on the doorstep and he remarked that these days other than parcels all he seemed to deliver was junk mail - everything else was done 'on line'. I reminisced about my childhood when everything was done by letter'.  In the thirties only a few 'important people' in the village had a phone, the rest of us went to the red phone box, put in our two pence and pushed Button A if somebody answered and Button B if we wanted our money back.  Everything that wasn't urgent was done by letter.   My mother wrote to her sisters - two in Huddersfield working in the cotton mills and one in The Dukeries working in service- regularly and received replies and I would pick up the envelopes and recognise who the letters were from by the writing.  There were two deliveries each day - one in the morning and one just after lunch and it was rare for there to be no mail because both of my parents were avid writers.  I wrote thank you letters at Birthdays and Christmas and - like all my friends - from the age of around ten I had a pen friend in England (she was called Diana Wickens.  I wonder what happened to her - she lived somewhere on the South Coast but I can't remember where) and a pen friend in France in the hope of improving my French.  How times have changed - it is e mails,facebook - all the modern ways - or nothing these days.  And so the Post Office dwindles - and will probably disappear altogether in a few years.

And that brings me to the second thing.   I watched 'Who do you think you are?' last evening on the television.   It was David Walliams looking back into his Family History.   On one side was the terrible First World War and a Grandfather who spent forty odd years in what was then called 'a Lunatic Asylum' suffering from 'Shell Shock' - dreadful to hear about.   Then the other side of his family where a relative went blind after a cataract operation went wrong and ended up playing a Barrel Organ in Portsmouth in an effort to keep his six children and his wife fed and clothed.   But there there was a happy ending when he 'made good' and ended up owning a Funfair.   We saw lovely old film of the funfair and it was just as I remembered it - and by golly that made me feel old!!   There were swing boats, cockerels and horses, the whip, the cake walk, the flying chairs - all the fairground rides I remember going on as a child and the things like the shooting gallery, the roll a penny, all the places where you never won but always thought you might.   And there were the side shows  - the world's fattest man, the world's thinnest woman, various 'freaks' as they were called - hideous and not even contemplated in such circumstances these days but the only way to survive in those far off days.

And I wondered how we will be viewed in a hundred year's time - what things that we now do and take forgranted will be looked back on in amazement.    How everything changes and how slowly we change with it.   I might be almost 88 but I am using the internet - as are almost all of my friends.   Progress indeed.

One thing doesn't change and that is children's humour.   There was a delightful example of it during the programme about David Walliams who is of course a comedian.   Apparently he is also a childrens' author and it showed him reading one of his books to a hall full of very young, Primary School children.   He read about a little boy who had so much air blowing out of his bottom that it shot him up into the air.   When he read it out the whole hall erupted with laughter and you realised that he had just got the humour right for the age.   It was an absolute delight to see.

And a final note - lovely day here - I had my usual long walk and I enjoyed every single minute of it.   My gardener has been and has cut all my hedges and also sawn down two old trees - we really are getting there at last.



Monday 19 October 2020

Oh Dear!

 After a week of singing my praises about how my walking was improving every day and how I was managing to walk that bit further each day suddenly today I came up against a brick wall.   I found my walk jolly hard going; so much so that I had to cut it short and go back on a shorter circuit than usual.   Even that was a struggle.   There could be two reasons for this - one it is a colder day and two there is quite a strong wind blowing.   Whatever the reason I shall not be going for a little top up after tea as I have been doing.   I have just turned the heating up a notch and when I have finished this I shall draw the blinds along the back of the bungalow (which faces North) and shut out the end of the day, which is cloudy anyway.

I came in, made myself a cup of tea and thought about lunch.   Obviously I needed a sustaining lunch (I had porridge sweetened with honey for breakfast)but couldn't be bothered to do much.   Then I remembered cold new sliced potatoes in a basin in the fridge - so I had it!   Fried new potatoes (lots!) with a small tin of Heinz beans in tomato sauce, four slices of fried streaky bacon and a fried egg.   It was delicious!!

Friend W called with a magazine I hadn't read so easy reading after tea.   We had a pleasant socially distanced chat (she didn't come inside) about what we had been reading, then I came onto my blog, wrote it, pressed the wrong button and the whole thing disappeared as if by magic - hence the gap but at least the title is apt.

Walking round earlier in the day I got to thinking about our circle of bloggers.   Of course there are many more but I can't begin to tell you all how grateful I am for our little circle.   I feel we have been friends for so long and i look forward to our chat most days.    Do please continue- it is one of the few bright sparks during this awful Covid and I thank you all most sincerely.

Oh Dear!

Sunday 18 October 2020

happy as I am

 I can now, with Percy, walk gently to the bottom of my estate.   It is not easy because it is downhill all the way and Percy does not like downhill - he wants to romp away so I have to try and keep his brake on.   Coming back, uphill all the way, is much easier and quicker.   My walk today was straight after lunch and again I didn't feel like going out.   It is a quiet day weather-wise but when I got out I realised there was a very fine mist of rain in the air.  As I went down my drive L stopped outside.   L collects my medication for me from the Chemist.   I order it on line from the Medical Centre and L collects it for me from the town chemist three days later.   It works well and it is very kind of her.   I am no longer capable of driving into town, walking without Percy - with just my walking stick - climbing the three steps into the chemist and then doing the whole thing in reverse back to the car.  Percy has a good shopping box incorporated in his make up so I didn't have to go back inside to leave the drugs.

I suppose our walk daily is now about three quarters of a mile.   As the estate goes down towards the bottom on the whole the houses get bigger and more spacious, but they have smaller gardens and usually garages for one car.   Most houses seem to have two, or even three, cars which means that the drive and often the kerbside outside has a car parked most of the time.   This also makes the road quite narrow.  I must say I much prefer where I live at the top end - there is a closed-down feeling at the bottom end - a feeling I don't care for.  I always feel my spirits lift as I climb back up to the top.

I also have what is possibly the largest space of garden on the estate.   Many folk would not like this but I love it, especially now that I| have got half of it done with gravel and less labour-intensive.  One more small piece to go and two old trees waiting for my gardener to saw them down and I have finished.   It will be really good to stand and look out on a completely finished    - easy to care for - garden.   As I passed many front gardens today on my walk it is easy to see who loves gardening and who finds it a chore - I am sure it is the same wherever you live too.

Saturday 17 October 2020


 No sun today  -- but no rain either - just a nothing sort of day.  We had our usual Saturday morning Zoom this morning; six of us and just a nice forty minute chat to start off the day.   Then the Postlady came and had to ring my new bell as she had a parcel for me.   She has been away for a while in hospital and it is lovely to have her back - she is such a cheerful soul and always has a chat and a smile.   We talked about three very local people who have died recently - about their lives and how they had enjoyed them.   We agreed that 'when your time is up, your time is up' and both declared we would live each day as it comes - hope you will all do the same.

After lunch (my soup maker made me a batch of carrot and lentil soup) I also had lasagne Percy and I set off on our walk - a little bit further today.   I have to say I didn't feel like going today.   There was no sun to warm me now and again and it was an effort to get going.   But once out I enjoyed it and went a little further than I went yesterday and on the way back a friend who lives further down the road was looking out for me (she had seen me go past going down the road) and we had a ten minute socially distanced chat.   I find these little chats, and these chats in blogland, such a help in these troubled times.

Saturdays are usually my least favourite days but, like last Saturday, tonight is a really great night for my tastes on BBC Four - another Francesco da Mosta programme on Venice - they are such brilliant programmes and still one more to go after this evening - then an hour of Michael Palin travelling all over the world and then - joy of joys another new unseen Inspector Montalbano mystery.   I intend to have a really indulgent evening.

Night is already falling outside - almost time to draw all the blinds and shut it out.    But first - one thing I noticed on my walk round this afternoon:   many gardens have a Pyracantha shrub in them.   They are an easy shrub to grow and obviously very popular.   Every one I passed was laden with berries, either yellow or orange.   I have one in my garden it has orange berries here and there but certainly not in profusion.   The difference - most of the ones I saw which were laden were growing up against house walls, which means they would be gaining heat from the walls (most bungalows and houses on the estate are built of stone bricks) which certainly retain the heat from the sun.   My bush is against a stone wall at the top of the garden and the North wind whistles through the gaps in the stone.   The wrong place for a shrub I guess.   Well you live and learn.

Friday 16 October 2020

Much better day

 Not a single shower today - sun now and again but mostly high cloud with bits of blue sky here and there.   I slept badly so was a little late up but had just finished tidying round, cleaning the kitchen and having a shower and deciding to go early (10.30) for my walk when the electrician's van  swerved into the drive.   He had come to fit my new door bell.   He offered to come back later but no,  best to get it done with, so I took my coat off and he began.   The instructions were in about a dozen different languages and they were also quite complicated.   There were eight chimes to choose from (!) and of course I had to listen to them all to make a decision.   Most were so frightful that I couldn't bear them and eventually we settled on a Westminster chime (it reminded me of our clock at home when I was a child).   I have one gadget plugged in the the hallway and the other in the sitting room.   To get the one in the sitting room in place he had to empty my huge bookshelves and move the bookcase about three inches.   Both settees were covered in books.   But it did give me a chance to sort them and dust both books and shelves, which I haven't done lately.   But I left that job until I had paid the electrician and he had left and then I went for my walk.   And today I walked to the bottom of the road and back - the furthest I have walked so I am pleased with my progress.   On my return I couldn't face doing the books before lunch, nor could I face cooking much for lunch.   It was either swap the meals round (sandwich at lunch time and cook this evening or have something quick.   I chose the latter)   So jacket potato stuffed with streaky bacon quickly fried and the last of my lovely tenderstem broccoli followed by a baked apple stuffed with raisins and honey and eaten with a dollop of creme fraiche.   It was good.   Then it was wipe the shelves, dust the books and get everything shipshape again.

The first person to try out the new bell was my neighbour H.   She had been gardening and brought me a bunch of her sweet peas.   I have a pretty cut glass vase and they fitted in it nicely.   I put them next to one of my favourite photographs of the farmer - I took it myself when we were going up the coast of Norway on the Hurtigruten some years ago.   Lovely memory of him and that holiday.

So, a productive day and still Monty Don and Gardeners' World to look forward to tonight - if I can stay awake!


Thursday 15 October 2020

Blue sky at last.

 After days when it was either looking like rain, raining or the roads were running with water which was running down the drains before it started up again, this morning's sunrise was beautiful.   It made me realise just how much the year is 'turning' as the sun rising in the East was actually shining into my sitting room window rather than into my bedroom window and I know that this evening the same will happen when the setting sun shines into the opposite corner of my sitting room window.   It always catches me unawares until I suddenly notice it one day.  Yes, only a fortnight before our clocks go back (Spring forward fall back as we used to say as a reminder) and our dark nights really arrive.

It would be easy to begin dreading the coming Winter with its possible lockdown retrictions at worst or semi lockdown at best as it looks at present.   But we really must not let ourselves get like that - I am determined to go into November with a more cheerful frame of mind.   To this aim I am trying to speak 'face to face' to at least four people each day (today it was E on the way to the hairdressers, when we walked together - she to the bus, me to the hairdresser- then H the hairdresser; we chatted behind our masks as she washed and blow dried my hair - then out on my walk M saw me coming and opened the front door so that we could chat for a while and then G my electrician who is hoping to come and fix the bell shortly).   I also aim for several phone calls - today I rang M my neighbour.   Her daughter's dog had an operation yesterday and she was worried about 'a lump' being cancerous.   It wasn't and she was joyous as he is already recovering, then my son rang.   They had been down country for his wife to have blood tests which she has  to have annually - he rang when they got back home.   My dear old school friend (we are the same age and   have been friends since the day we started infant school (and that wasn't yesterday)) rang and we had a good reminisce.  Finally the young lady who collects my medication rang and said she would collect it tomorrow for me.   So you see I have had plenty of 'chat' today.

I have endeavoured to walk 'the circuit' round the estate every day for the last ten days and have only I think missed one day, when the weather was just too wet.   Today when I walked round just before lunch I arrived back home and contemplated walking round again straight away as I felt so fit after my first circuit.   Of course my ankles still hurt - arthritis never goes away - but I can tolerate that if I feel well.   I know if we get another wet spell the tiredness will return but I am determined to keep up the Dunkirk spirit.   Wish me luck!

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Fairly miserable Wednesday

 Yes, I am afraid we are going through a miserable spell of weather.  I thought it was slightly better today - big black clouds but blue sky too and  when the sun came out it was warm.  I thought ' strike while the iron is hot', put on my coat, put my woolly hat in Percy's cabinet and set off.  The sun was lovely.   I had only gone a hundred yards when out of nowhere came pouring rain - no warning, no slight drizzle - just pouring heavy drops.   I turned round and came back home and sadly that it is for today - it has more or less rained ever since.

I had decided on an easy quick lunch today - so I made it and it was delicious.    I made a souffle omelette with two eggs and stuffed it with quickly browned button mushrooms and served it with my favourite tenderstem broccoli.   Easy indeed but a lot of toing and froing to get everything ready at the same minute and an awful lot of washing up for my dishwasher.   I gave it its monthly special wash this morning too.

My doorbell has decided to stop ringing - or rather it rings when it chooses to, which is worse because people ring and if it doesn't ring inside they think I am out and go away.   The electrician came to look at it yesterday and the upshot is I need a new one, it is 'click and collect' and should be here tomorrow so he will be along to install it and it is to be one with a speaker in the kitchen and one in the sitting room and has a choice of about six different ring tones!!  So it will be decisions, decisions.

There is more than enough blue sky now to make a pair of sailor's trousers as we used to say when we were kids - so maybe another quick walk with Percy after tea (smoked salmon pate  on brown seeded bread) - see you tomorrow when I hope to have more news than I have today when news has been a bit thin on the ground.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Equally miserable Tuesday

 Heavy rain is pouring down the windows at the back of my bungalow  - in other words it is very wet and the wind is blowing from the North.  By the time I got up at a quarter past seven the central heating was going full blast.  Tuesday means showering and dressing before breakfast (every other week) because my Tesco order comes at 9am. I usually order something 'special' that doesn;t take a lot of effort for the Tuesday lunches and really look forward to whatever it is.   Last time it was sea bass which I fried quickly and ate with parsley and lemon butter and tender stem broccoli.   It was divine.   This time I decided on a Tesco prawn salad with potato salad which I intended to eat with a Jacket Potato and butter.   That was my first disappointment - when my order came there was no prawn salad - in its place was a tuna salad.   I like a tuna salad but have a lot of tuna - in a sandwich, in a salad, in a pasta bake.   Now that I no longer eat out because of Covid restrictions I don;t eat prawns.   So I resolve next fortnight to get prawns and scampi frozen for my freezer - that will give me something to look forward to.

So, tuna salad it is and I shall now go and tell my new soup maker that I would like it to make Spicy Red Lentil soup for starters - I'll let you know later in the day how it turns out.   Meanwhile I shall post this with the rain pouring down the windows and the central heating keeping me snug and warm.   'See' you later.

Well, all I can say about the Spicy Red Lentil soup was that the taste did not merit the time it took to make.   There were a lot of spices - turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, a lot of fiddling about and toing and froing across the kitchen - and the final result - in spite of a tin of coconut milk as part of the stock - was pretty tasteless.   Quite a disappointment really.

And after lunch the rain really set in and it has been a thoroughly wet afternoon.   As I write this at 4pm the rain is still pouring down the window and there is a sharp Northerly wind blowing.   So Percy and I have abandoned any thought of walking today I am sad to say.   I have just watched 'Escape to the Country' over my afternoon cup of tea and I was so pleased I did because the county involved was Shropshire and we went round Acton Scott Farm Museum - an area I know well from the seventeen years I spent living and teaching in Wolverhampton so it brought back many happy memories.   And what can be better on a pouring wet day than happy memories.

Monday 12 October 2020

Miserable Monday

 Not a lot to be cheerful about today is there?   Here it is cold and wet. The Covid news gets worse by the minute and the Prime Minister is to speak to us all later and tell us about new measures that are to be brought in.  On a personal note - my front doorbell has stopped working - well its working is intermittent which is as bad and because of the damp atmosphere my arthritis is very bad today and I can hardly walk.  So not exactly a cheerful sort of day is it?

Then things began to happen.  First of all Joanny rang from Western Australia.   Joanny is a relative of the farmer  and she and her daughter did come over one year to see us.   She rings from time to time and she always cheers me up.   So many sincere thanks Joanny.  Then I remembered that a young couple who live just across the road from me were married a year ago today, so I sorted through my cards and found a suitable one and Percy and I delivered it (negotiating the steps up to their front door - never easy as Percy doesn't care for steps) and while we were out, although it was raining, we walked round the block.   The electrician called and looked at the bell and decided I needed a new - and better quality - one and went off to buy it.    He has ordered it and will be here by the week end to fit it.   Then the sun came out and there was a lot of blue sky.  S and T called to take my card and get me some cash from the cash machine in the town.   By the time the Prime Minister came on television to talk about the new measures to combat Covid I was feeling more my old self.   Yes, we will beat Covid, we have to and we all have to follow the instructions given to us by the experts.   Nothing is as bad as it seems.   Chin up as my father used to say.

Sunday 11 October 2020

Come ye thankful people come,

 Raise the song of harvest home.

Cro's post today, with its picture of a harvest sheaf loaf brought back so many memories of my childhood in a Lincolnshire village which was largely a Methodist village that I thought I would share them with you (pure self indulgence on my part really).

There were two really important dates for us children in the Methodist calendar.   One was the Sunday School Anniversary in June and the other was Harvest Festival.   We lived very much in a farming community;  there were three or four quite large farms in the village - a couple with milking herds and the other two with mixed crops and sheep and beef cattle.    All four of the farmers were attenders at the Methodist chapel and the Harvest Festival was important to them too.

On the Saturday morning us children would go round the village and every time we saw a garden with Michaelmas daisies growing in it we would go to the door and ask if we could have some.   When we had armfuls we would return to chapel, by which time the Sunday school superintendent would have strung a taut line of baler band across the bottom of each window and we would snip the heads and a small amount of stalk off and tuck them behind the band until every window was bedecked with a row of  purple and yellow heads.

Then we would start on the produce - root vegetables of every kind, scrubbed to total cleanliness, still with their top growth on; stalks of Brussels Sprouts, huge Vegetable Marrows, Pumpkins, a large basket lined with straw and filled with beautiful, newly laid, brown farm eggs, several sheaves of corn brought in by the farmers and a bale of straw as a table for all the tins of fruit, vegetables, meats etc. and the jars of home made pickles and jams    From the pulpit rail to the altar the space would be crammed with produce to celebrate harvest.   And always Pride of Place would be given to the specially baked bread in the shape of a sheaf of wheat all shiny and brown and perfect.

This all had to be finished and the place swept up before lunch time.   Then we would go home for our lunch and told to be back for two when it was time to go round the village.   Oneof the farmers would provide a cart horse and cart, there would be forms round the edges and a harmonium on the end and we would pile in and go round the village singing the harvest hymns.   Then it was back to the sunday school room attached to the chapel where we would tuck in to tea - potted meat sandwiches, cakes and carraway seed cake.   Then the tables would be cleared away and there would be an hour of games - pass the parcel, musical chairs, oats and beans and barley grow, postman's knock.  And finally an hour of films - Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Charlie .Chaplin.   Now we were all set for Sunday.

The usual services morning and evening with all the harvest hymns and then on Monday evening all the produce would be sold and it would all be over for another year.   Looking back - simple pleasures but a lot of this was during the Second World War and boy how we looked forward to it.

Friday 9 October 2020

What to look forward to today...

 No days are really busy during this enforced semi lockdown but some are busier than others.   Yesterday I kept busy all day - I did this by slowing down and taking the day carefully - and I felt very good at the end of it.   My usual method, which I find hard to break, is to go at everything like a bull at a gate as they say and that usually ends in exhaustion and frustration.   The night before last for no reason I can think of I slept extremely badly.   At half past one I got up and made myself a pot of tea and two slices of toast and marmite and read my book for an hour and a half and then I dropped off on going back to bed but only slept intermittently.   So last night I slept very well indeed, waking to go to the bathroom at five this morning and then going back to sleep again and sleeping until a quarter to nine.  Brilliant.

Today is not a day when much is happening.   It was raining when I got up and had obviously been raining all night but now the sun is out and there is a light breeze.   It is almost lunch time and as my ready meals have just arrived I shall have Sausage and Bean Cassoulet for lunch and serve it with  peas and tenderstem  broccoli before I freeze the rest of the meals.   Then Percy and I will take a stroll round the block and I shall be back in plenty of time for our weekly Zoom meeting when friend W and I meet P and D from Windermere for our weekly chat.  A local friend, A, has just rung me for a nice chat.   We are a similar age and he also lives alone and has a son who lives locally and 'keeps an eye on him'.

Any odd moments will be taken up by reading another chapter of 'The Rules of Civility' by Amor Towles, which is almost as readable as his previous one 'A Gentleman in Moscow' which was our book group choice the month before last.  And then, of course, there is Monty Don and Gardeners' World on television this evening.   So all in all not a bad day.   It is interesting how we have adapted to it because it does look as though it will be bad again over Winter so we shall be kept in.   Because that is more than a possibility I have sent to West Yorkshire Spinners for an easy pattern and some sock wool and I hope to knit a couple of pairs of warm winter socks.  I hope my friend C is not reading this - I started knitting a teddy for my great grand daughter just after she was born.   She is four in December and I still have not finished it and  she is now much too old for it.   From time to time C does remind me of teddy languishing in the plastic bag in the cupboard near where I am sitting to type this.

Sausage and bean cassoulet calls.   May pop in again later if anything of interest occurs.

Thursday 8 October 2020


 Goodbye 747s as this morning I watched the two take off from Heathrow on their final journey.    I hadn't realised that the tail fin was as high as a 6 storey building although I have flown many times on them.   The staff were all out watching and waving them off on their final journey it was very nostalgic and it set me thinking about flying and the many memories I have.

The first time I flew was in 1951.   I was engaged to be married and Malcolm, my first husband, was nine years older than me and had lived in China, been a prisoner of war in Thailand, convalesced in India after the war so was a seasoned flier.   I lived with my parents in the Lincolnshire Fens and had only been to London once - for the day.   So we went to London for the day on the train from Lincoln.   We were to meet two friends of his, which we did and we had lunch with them at a cafe in Trafalgar Square I think.   I know I had my first omelette (mushroom) - my mother did eggs (we had our own chickens) any which way but must never have heard of omelettes.  It all felt very sophisticated.   Then for the surprise.   My fiancee had booked for us to fly over London for half an hour from what was then London Airport.   It was a tiny plane.   I think it held about eight.  It was a bit scary as it did keep wobbling about and dropping suddenly.  I don't think I took a lot of notice of what was below us.   I remember  when Igot home my parents were very cross that Malcolm had taken such a risk!!

My next flight took place in 1953, the year after we were married, when we had a belated honeymoon = a week in Paris- I remember the hotel was on Le Rue Ceaumartin.  Again we flew from London Airport )I seem to remember it was a collection of very large nissen huts.   I know we flew out on an Elizabethan and back on a Viscount.  This time my parents knew in advance of course but asked not to know which actual day we were flying because they would have been so worried!

After that of cou rse our horizons broadened - many flights to far away places; so many that they tend to merge into one.   That is apart from many internal flights inside what was then the USSR from Moscow to Samarkand or Bukhara or Tashkent - all fairly short flights but often with a lot of babushkas who always seemed to be muffled in shawls (we usually went in mid winter because it was cheaper (our reason for travelling there anyway)) and laden with bags of root vegetables which rolled about in the aisles of rickety, wobbly little planes which often slipped about on the ice when they landed.

I will have taken my last flight now.   It was a short flight in 2016 with my beloved farmer the year before he died.   It was from Durham Tees Valley airport (barely three quarters of an hour's drive from home) to Amsterdam - down the East coast until the Humber estuary then out over the North Sea and ten minutes later views of the tulip fields, landing and cruising the river to Antwerp and back through what used to be called the Zuider Zee.    

Memories, memories - all lovely to recall on wintry days.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Temperature drop!

 There is a temperature drop of some degrees today and a sharp Northerly breeze blowing.   There was a great temptation to stay in bed this morning but not an option - can't start doing that this early into Autumn.   Friend H next door came round with the newspaper she lends me each week (our local one) and came in for a coffee.   We observed social distancing as we always do and enjoyed a couple of hours chat to liven up what is not a very nice day.   I didn;t feel like venturing out but decided it was necessary to have a walk, however short;  so I went just round the block and, as usual, I felt better for it.  Better still when I had eaten my lunch of two fillets of Sea Bass with lemon and parsley butter,a couple of small potatoes and a nice helping of lightly steamed tenderstem broccoli.  A simple lunch but delicious.

The lady who does my small local shop at our good Deli called with this week's order and came round to the back of my bungalow to look at what I had had done to my garden.   As with everyone else who sees it they are always surprised by how large a garden it is.   This always surprises me because although it might be a tad larger than the usual estate garden - compared with the garden at the farm it is quite small. My gardener and his friend came yesterday and gave the whole place a good going over for weeds - and it shows.  I do wish I could still do it all myself - it would certainly help to pass the time when it does begin to look as though we may well go back into   lockdown again.  Although my Book Club book (Visitation) has already come this morning as has another book I ordered - the book is 'Rules of Civility' by Amor Towles - another book by the author of 'A Gentleman in Moscow' the book club so enjoyed the month before last.How do people manage who never do any reading?   I would be interested to know how you are filling your time these days when things to do are so limited.   Similarly I usually buy new clothes for Winter - maye a couple of jumpers, sometimes a new anorak or a new coat - this year I look at them and then ponder on whether it is worth it.   If we do go into another lockdown., as does begin to seem likely, we are not going to be going anywhere are we?   Have a nice evening.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

This and that as the day goes on.

 Phew!   If anybody says that shopping on line is easier than popping down the local shops don't believe them.   I live alone and I am careful to see that I eat sensibly and well.  I like to vary my meals, I am not all that keen on meat, I eat quite a lot of fish, I love vegetables and fruit.   Tuesday is usually the day when I order because it is not always easy to get a Tesco delivery slot.   I have a Tesco order once a fortnight - I book it on Tuesday morning for the next Tuesday morning and it works very well.  I booked it this morning for between nine and ten next Tuesday.   But bear in mind my hand is shaky and so I have to go through it carefully because I have always booked too many.   This morning it was tea bags - I thought I had bought 1 box of 160 tea bags but the price of my total order was suddenly £52 and I was nowhere near through - scrolling through carefully revealed I had ordered eight boxes of 160 tea bags rather than one!  So that was put right.   Now I have my secure slot and can add to it as the week goes on.   Next it was e mail the local lady who shops at our very good Deli for people on the estate - it is a very good service which she started when lockdown started.   It has grown into a nice little business which she intends to continue - she makes a small charge but that is fine and the order is always correct.  Then it was telephone our local meal delivery place - order by Tuesday and have meals for one delivered on Friday so that all I have to do is prepare veggies - today I ordered 2 chicken, bacon and mozzarella in tomato sauce, 2 sausage and bean cassoulet, 1 chilli  and rice, 1 beef lasagne - and by ordering 6 I got 1 free- chicken ham and leek bake.   £4.50 each and free delivery.   The whole thing has taken me an hour and a half.   I shall now go and make myself a cup of hot marmite and relax with The Times for half an hour (not that the news in The Times will cheer me up much)  If anything stupendous happens during the day I shall add to my post - at least it is fine - a bit chilly but Percy and I are hardy.   After the marmite we will go round the block.

And r ound the block we went.  On our return my cod and salmon fish pie was ready to eat, sweet corn took only two minutes to simmer and home made tomato soup was quickly heated in the microwave.   After the long walk (for me) I was ready for a rest and as I have been watching All Creatures Great and Small and am now also watching Life which is on at the same time I decided to watch tonight's episode of Life on iplayer.   I drew the blind to keep the sun off the screen and when I drew it back when the programme had finished it was to see that my gardener had been and mowed the lawn and his girl friend had weeded the back garden - it all looks neat and tidy.   I see he instructed his girl friend to remove the last of the poppy heads - we have a running battle over whether to allow the poppies to self seed everywhere (me) or weed the wretched things up as soon as they appear (him).   Now at tea time it is raining - not heavily but somebody has just gone past with an umbrella up.  Have a nice evening.   See you tomorrow.

Monday 5 October 2020

Another Monday

Mondays come round increasingly fast these days and another one has arrived.   Today was our Book Group when we discussed 'Dress your family in Corduroy and Denim'.   I personally enjoyed the humour but the general opinion was not good and I was distinctly in the minority.  But we had an interesting discussion and that is what matters - keeps the old grey matter stirred up.  I had to call in at the Solicitors afterwards so I drove into town.   If there had been anywhere to park I would have gone into Thomas the Baker and bought myself a prawn and salad roll for my lunch, but the car park was full.   There was a queue to get into the Solicitors office too but luckily I could put my envelope through the letter box so I was soon away.   The town was every bit as busy as on any normal Monday - surprising as schools are back but there we are.

For the second day we are having no rain.   The sun is out, there are a lot of clouds about but no rain is falling and most of the time I am being warmed by the sun.  This time of year every day when there is a warm sun is a bonus.   One can almost feel the plants soaking up the sun to store for winter.   This year I remembered to cut back each antirrhinum stem as it began to go to seed and as a result I have two lovely patches of new blossoms - one yellow and one red.   The red ones are self-sown from last year.

As there was no prawn sandwich (and I had got my mouth ready for one) I micro waved a large jacket potato and stuffed it with crispy fried streaky bacon, cheese and Mediterranean stir fry veggies.  I must say it was tasty and I had a bowl of home-made tomato soup first so didn't go hungry.   And then I insisted that Percy and I walked round the block soaking up that sun - didn't feel like it as I seemed to have been on the go all morning but I felt better for it when I got back home.

Now to order our next book for Book Group - it is 'Visitation' by Jenny Erpenbeck - has anybody read it?


Sunday 4 October 2020

This and that as the day goes on.

First thing this morning - and a bright sunny one looking out of the front windows facing South with the sun shining straight into the sitting room.   Then I come into the Computer Room and the sky is black and there are fresh raindrops on the window.   Oh dear,we are not going to get a rain-free day as I hoped for it seems.

Yesterday was a day for doing absolutely nothing outside so no walk at all with Percy.  I don't know whether he missed it but I certainly did.   I read The Times, I cooked a lunch, I went for a flu jab, I finished re-reading my Book Club Book (it is the meeting on Monday) and I watched a bit of television.   And what a wonderful programme I watched.   I shall watch it again sometime this week on iplayer as it was on BBC Four.   It was Francesco da Mosto - Venetian but a really good English speaker- talking about my favourite city, Venice.   I have travelled a lot but I think I have been to Venice more than anywhere else and if only I could walk I would be there again tomorrow.   It never finishes giving up its treasures to travellers willing to search for them.   Please do watch the programmes if it is your kind of thing.   He is charting Venice from the fifth century when the first Venetians inhabited the lagoon.  It is the first of four programmes so that is the next three Saturday evenings to look forward to.   How lucky we are to have television and all it brings into our homes if only we have the sense to pick and choose what we watch rather than have it on all the time as background noise.

When you think about it, what an asset television is during this period of lockdown and now semi lockdown.   I am thinking now of my age group really but I think it is making all of us search for productive things to do with our time - at least I hope it is.   With my walking problems I suppose I am in permanent semi lockdown these days anyway but I do make a point of speaking to at least four people face to face each day if I can ( that is without telephone calls).   Maybe it is only a short 'chat' like a good morning, nice day to someone I pass on my daily walk with Percy (weather permitting) or yesterday a chat to my gardener who called because I owed him the money for his work on my patio - he stood in the middle of the lawn and I stood in the hall and we chatted for five minutes (and again he commented on how nice my hair looked in its new style and that did my self esteem no harm at all!) - just these short chats break up the day nicely and then a couple of phone calls (my son calls most days) and a couple of decent TV programmes and it is time for bed and the day has been passed pleasantly.

I must say that the nurse who gave me my flu jab yesterday morning was brilliant at the job.   The organisation at the Medical Centre was excellent and I was able to park in a disabled bay close to the door. Each stage through was carefully monitored and I honestly never felt a pin prick when the vaccine went into my arm (and no sore arm this morning either).  I was in, jabbed, out and back in my car within five minutes.   Now all we wait for is (I hope) an effective vaccine for Covid.  President Trump has gone down with it now.   Let's hope he has a swift recovery - politics don't come into it here.  I may not like them but I wouldnt wish Covid on my worst enemy.   Our Prime Minister recovered - although I have doubts about whether he is actually fully recovered yet - so I hope the same for Trump.

Until tomorrow then, unless something else happens to tell you today.


Saturday 3 October 2020


 And very wet with it.   After almost a week of pleasant weather today has blown in very wet and windy - and I suspect it has been like this all night judging from the water lying about on the road.

The highlight of my day was my flu jab at eleven o'clock this morning.  And very well-organised it was too.   Marshalls everywhere and no possibility of going wrong.   I was in and out within a couple of minutes and I never felt a thing.   So that is another thing I can tick off my list.  I have a jab every year - I think we owe it to ourselves and to our families to do as much as we can to avoid whatever strain of flu happens to be lurking in the wings.   That does not include Covid of course although today's Times indicates that the vaccine being investigated at Oxford is doing very well.

It is on days like this that I envy people like Cro who can stoke up a good log fire.   There are advantages with being all gas/electric, and of course at my age I can't be sawing logs, but on miserable days like today there is really no substitute for a good log fire (although I do remember sitting so close to it that my legs got red at the front!)  When I think back to my parents and to my childhood - we had a good fire in the living room - when I was very small my mother didn't have an electric cooker even (there was no gas in the village) and cooked solely in the side oven of the fire.   And what a good cook she was - good roasts (alternating beef, pork and lamb on Sundays and making it last in various forms (cold sliced, shepherd's or cottage pies, mince, casseroles) and the most wonderful mushy peas and rice puddings usually left in overnight.   The smell of bread while still warm always takes me back to my childhood with rising bread and Lincolnshire Plum Bread rising in the hearth.   The rest of the house had no heating so it was hot water bottles (or even an oven shelf wrapped in sheeting) at bed time and often frost on the inside of the window in the mornings.   But we came to no harm and knew no better.

But Winters have changed haven't they?  (hope I am not tempting fate),   Last Winter we only had a handful of sharp frosts and I don't remember many mornings when the roads were icy.   I wonder what this Winter will bring -

Thursday 1 October 2020

Last Night's Drama and Today's Doings.

 Last night's drama first.   Remember I live alone; remember also that I have had two super husbands who were practical, sensible and straight forward (all things I am not).   There am I, about half past nine yesterday evening watching the programme on Channel 5 about Lawrence of Arabia (a programme I had been looking forward to and which I found a bit of a disappointment) when what should emerge from under the settee   where I am sitting but an absolute giant spider - large, fat body, very long legs, scuttling towards the rug over my knees at a rapid  rate!  Flinging the rug aside I dashed (well hobbled) into the kitchen to get a glass and then into the study to get a postcard.   When I returned to the sitting room it had not moved an inch.   But when I approached it with the glass it set off in another direction.   And so the 'chase' was on.  After a couple of minutes I gave up, in spite of my father's maxim:

                        If you want to live and thrive

                        Let all spiders run alive.

I fetched the vacuum cleaner from the kitchen and 'chased' the spider round the sitting room, finally hoovering it up after giving the carpet in the sitting room the best clean it has had in quite a while.   Well I think I got it.   Tonight may very well tell.

Early this morning my friend and neighbour brought me round a lovely bunch of sweet peas from her garden.   Sadly H has lost her sense of smell - a shame because they beautiful.   Then Percy and I went on a nice walk round a different part of the estate.   It is a lovely day today - brilliant warm sunshine, light breeze and few clouds in the sky.  I came home and made lunch - a Tesco Cottage Pie which I cooked in the oven and served with some delicious locally grown Tender Stem Broccoli and I followed that with a bowl of green grapes and a tangerine orange served with a nice dollop of half fat Creme Fraiche - that was good too.

Finally I must tell you about the book I am reading and enjoying very much.   It is Pat Barker's 'The Silence of the Girls', about the fate of the women in the Trojan Wars.   It is brilliantly written  and holds the attention from page one.   I do recommend it.